Gordon Allport's Trait Theory of Personality Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  887 Words
Date:  2022-11-18


In a practical situation, all the personality traits are concerned with some particular traits. But despite all this, Allport's theory is described to be one of the first ever existing modern trait theorists. In comparison to the psychoanalytic and humanistic theory, this kind of trait theory generally looks at the trait approach to bring forth more emphasis about the individual characteristics that are dearly stable across the time and the situation at hand. Gordon Allport generally define trait as a generalized neuropsychic that is most peculiar to an individual person and having the ability to render various stimuli functionally equivalent and at the same time initiate and guide the consistent forms of expressive and adaptive behavior (Chapman & Allport, 1938). By examining Gordon Allport's trait theory of personality, the researcher argues that personality is the general dynamic organization within an individual in relation to the psychophysical system which determines one's unique adjustment to a particular environment.

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

A Neuropsychic System

Based on the neuropsychic system, Allport argued that the trait of a person is not in any way fictional but are inherent and very real within that person. The traits of an individual according to the given explanation are present and active even in a situation that there is no none to see and identify them. The theory argues that even though some traits are hereditary, some of them are generally evoked through a given social situation.

Types of traits described in the theory

Gordon Allport in his theory divided all the traits into a three-level hierarchy which includes cardinal traits, Central traits, and Secondary traits:

Cardinal traits

This is referred to as the dominant traits in an individual life. They are the traits that are used to shape up the person behavior in a given manner that a person is known or identified using those given traits (Chapman & Allport, 1938). The cardinal traits as described in the theory becomes very synonymous with the person who is then identified using the traits. They are thus the traits that determine a person's behavioral life and therefore are of great importance according to Allport theory (Zuroff, 1986). When available they highly shape up the personal sense of self, their attitude and behavior together with emotional makeup and in most cases define their lives.

Central traits

When compared to the cardinal traits, the central traits differs a little bit in that it is the trait that makes up a person personality in are generally easily detected characteristics of the person. According to the illustration of Allport, almost all individual have approximately five to ten central traits and the traits are present in varying degrees in every individual (Carlson, 1976). The central traits include commonly known traits within a person such as being shy, intelligence and honesty. These traits are responsible for shaping some of our individual behaviors and there was of great concern to the theory and of a high point of illustration.

Secondary traits

A disposition that is importantly less significant and which are less generalized and less relevant is always referred to as secondary traits. They are different from the cardinal traits and central trait due to the fact that they don't have the ability to shape up or even to determine a person's behavioral system (Zuroff, 1986). In most cases, the secondary traits are circumstantially determined traits and characteristics of a person. This is due to the fact that they are determined or brought in relation to a particular cardinal or central trait within a particular person. For example, Chapman & Allport (1938) reports that a person whose cardinal trait is described to be assertiveness might develop or even display signs of submissiveness when stopped for example by police while overspeeding. It is described as a situation traits that might be displayed or even not displayed for various other interpersonal encounters (Carlson, 1976). According to the theory illustration, this hard to determine characteristics or traits are always given out by a narrower range of stimuli and at the same time issue to a narrower range of responses.


Allport's trait theory is not majorly based on empirical research and has published quite a little research to prove his theory. The research carried out by Allport concluded that all the traits do not exist independently but are rather dependent on one another, for example, the secondary traits are dependent on either cardinal or central traits. The theory also developed that traits are measurable between the different individual and therefore they differ from one person to the other. For example, the degree of intelligence as a trait clearly differ from person to person and can be measured. Even though several theorists believe that a person can be defined with their traits, there is still a very bid debate about the number of the basic required traits that make up a clear personal trait. Allport's research is believed to be one of the pioneering theory in the field of personal traits and thus it brings out more light in relation to the study and the understanding of the human traits.


Carlson, R. (1976). Review of Personality theory: The personological tradition. Contemporary Psychology: A Journal Of Reviews, 21(9), 660-660. Doi: 10.1037/015451

Chapman, D., & Allport, G. (1938). Personality: A Psychological Interpretation. Sociometry, 1(3/4), 420. Doi: 10.2307/2785590

Zuroff, D. (1986). Was Gordon Allport a trait theorist?. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 51(5), 993-1000. Doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.51.5.993

Cite this page

Gordon Allport's Trait Theory of Personality Essay Example. (2022, Nov 18). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/gordon-allports-trait-theory-of-personality-essay-example

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism